It’s a complicated tradition, in which one is first led into a darkened room, and then asked to read letters from a sacred script projected into a series of mirrors. Next, the patient is christened with mysterious numbing drops, which render the eyeballs numb, produce electric-yellow tears, and create pupils the size of silver dollars. At this point, the diabetic is led to another darkened room, to squint at months-old magazines and meditate on the value of pitch-perfect A1Cs. During this seclusion period, the patient usually recites a few silent prayers, bargaining with the Gods of Diabetes: “If I’m okay, I swear I’ll start checking more often.” “Just give me one more clear year, and I’ll stop over-treating the lows.”
After a few minutes, the patient’s led back into the original dark room and met by a Magical Eyeball Shaman, who peers deep into the diabetic’s soul with a piercing light and a special magnifying glass. This examination can reveal the diabetic’s deepest treatment secrets, and the future of the diabetic’s eyes.
Anyone who’s been through it knows I’m talking about the yearly diabetic eye exam. It’s like Groundhog Day: you either get one more year of presumably healthy eyes, or a new season of worry.
Lucky for me, all was clear. But as relieved as I was, I was a little weirded out by how surprised the Magic Eyeball Shaman seemed. “Twenty years, huh? And no damage? We were always led to believe that a patient who’d been diabetic for 20 years would almost certainly have some damage going on.”
As much as I’d like to take credit, I know that a lot of it’s just blind luck (pardon the pun). As Kerri has discussed, it’s not necessarily the diligence of the diabetic that dictates the incidence of side effects — it’s the disease itself. So today, I’m breathing a little easier — but still crossing my fingers for next year’s magical experience.